Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

September 5, 2013

Fulfill King's dream with fair tax and spending policies

(Continued)

Wealth disparities are even more glaring. While the wealthiest 1 percent – just over a million households – owned more than one-third of America’s wealth in 2007, the bottom 80 percent – almost 89 million households – owned only 15 percent. In 2010, the median white household had eight times the assets of the median black household, according to the Urban Institute. These huge discrepancies threaten our democratic institutions because concentrated wealth wields disproportionate political influence.

While several factors have contributed to these troubling financial disparities, researchers have determined that roughly one-third of this escalating income inequality can be attributed to our skewed tax system and cuts to public services and benefits.

An unfair budget policy contributes to economic inequality in different ways. First, lower tax rates for the wealthy and numerous tax loopholes for large corporations keep money in the pockets of those who need it least. Then, the resulting decline in tax revenue causes Washington to slash investments in everything from job training to education to mass transit—the very resources American families need to pull through tough times and get ahead over the long-term.

To help close these economic gaps, we need reformed tax and spending policies that require everyone to pay a fair share. Ending tax loopholes that encourage individuals and large corporations to hide profits and ship jobs overseas could easily raise $600 billion over the next decade to invest in American communities. Limiting the wealthiest families to the top tax deduction available to middle-class taxpayers (28 percent) could raise another $500 billion.

With millions unemployedor underemployed,rather than losing 900,000 more jobs with another round of cuts mandated by the cruel budget “sequester,” we could use this new revenue to invest in America’s future through a national jobs program. My proposal, the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act (H.R. 1000), would put Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure and rehabilitating our communities.

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